Williamsburg concerned with recent string of attacks
by Lisa A. Fraser
Nov 16, 2011 | 1008 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jewish leaders and elected officials gathered at the corner of Lee Avenue and Ross Street in Williamsburg on Sunday, November 13, to call for increased police presence after the brutal assault of a Hasidic man.

According to reports, at about 8:30 p.m. on Friday evening, a man was badly beaten and left unconscious near the intersection. He was taken to a nearby hospital after being found by area residents.

The assault comes about a week after swastikas were found nearby and just days after the anti-Semitic vandalism in Midwood.

Although the crimes are not connected, they have shaken the Williamsburg community.

“Friday night's assault was a terrible tragedy for the entire community,” said Councilman Steve Levin. “Residents in Williamsburg ought to be able to walk down their own streets without fear of being attacked.”

Levin called on the NYPD to increase patrols in the area, especially during the Jewish Sabbath when streets are almost deserted.

The Shomrim Patrol of Williamsburg, a volunteer auxiliary patrol, supports the efforts of the NYPD during the week, but they do not patrol the streets after sundown on Friday or on Saturday.

“We need increased police patrols in order to ensure the safety of New Yorkers of all religions,” Levin said.

Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg also called for safety, saying that Williamsburg cannot go on with such violence.

“Immediate action must be taken to ensure that our community is safe,” he said.

Noting the work that the community does to help the police in the area, Niederman said the 90th Precinct needs additional resources to patrol the neighborhood.

“I hope that we can continue to work with the police department to make sure our streets are secure,” he said.

After the press conference, Levin joined colleagues from throughout government, local activists and community leaders in Midwood, where they marched in solidarity in a “Walk for Tolerance.”

The elected officials walked with the victims of the vandalism that occurred in the neighborhood on Friday morning, November 11, when someone spray-painted “KKK” on a car and set three others on fire.

The Williamsburg and Midwood incidents coincide with another in Queens – all happening around the 73rd anniversary of “Kristallnacht,” or the “Night of Broken Glass,” – something which Mayor Michael Bloomberg says might have sparked the attacks.

Franco Rodriguez, 40, of Jackson Heights, was arrested on Friday after police say he allegedly spray-painted swastikas on the East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights branches of the Queens Library, a church and a synagogue. He was charged with a hate crime.

Police are not calling the attack on the Jewish man in Williamsburg a hate crime, but Levin insists that residents feel uneasy in its wake.

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